Each month, I will spotlight a charity or nonprofit organization. Some of the charities will be those that provide support in other areas of the world, and others will be within the United States. The goal of the “Charity of the Month” post is to:
- Help us teach our children about the needs of others worldwide.
- Learn about diversity, empathy, compassion, and also to try to lessen or prevent negative stereotypes often associated with people outside our usual peer group.
- To spread awareness about lesser known organizations that might benefit from our support.
December 2017 Charity of the Month:
Paxton Andrews Foundation
As I sat down to write my very first “Charity of the Month” post, I tried to determine which charity was most deserving of the research and time I wanted to put into it. I thought about global issues. I thought about local issues. I thought about race issues. I thought about illnesses. I thought about animals. I thought about more. I became overwhelmed by the sheer volume of organizations and needs out there, but I was also filled with hope at how many people are out there trying to help. All of these are causes worthy of our attention. But, there was one organization I kept coming back to over and over again. It is one that is closest to my heart and hits closest to home.
My blog is about children. It is about setting children up to be the strong, kind, compassionate, amazing beings we know will change the world. It is about giving them the support they need to reach their full potential. But, the following story is one that threatens to rip those dreams we have for our children away. It is a story of cancer. And, in the mind of any parent, the absolute worst kind: childhood cancer. It is the second leading cause of death in children, and is largely underfunded. While I write about the hopes, joys, and dreams associated with a lifetime of raising a child, childhood cancer is taking those hopes, joys, and dreams away from families every day. What is our world if we don’t have these beautiful children in it to build a beautiful future?
On May 8, 2012, a friend of mine had to bear the one piece of news no one should ever. ever. ever. have to bear. She discovered her son had cancer throughout his tiny, less than three-month-old body. His Momma, Danna, who has more fire, spunk, and drive in her than probably (no, definitely) anyone else I know, had her whole world sucked away from her. Paxton (whose name means “Peace”) fought like the warrior he is, but on July 2, 2012, he was unable to fight any longer.
News spread throughout their community in Southeastern Wisconsin, and despite his earthly life having ended, Paxton continued to inspire, encourage, and light a flame in people around him. His Momma’s passion, love, fortitude, dedication, bravery, and connection to her dear Paxton (even from a universe away), gave birth to something unparalleled. She built an army of love in his honor that continues to share his story and fight for others in similar circumstances. The Paxton Andrews Foundation was created.
PAX provides several services for children who are impacted by childhood cancer.
- The Pax Warrior Scholarship is awarded to a senior in high school whose life has been impacted in some way by childhood cancer. Although Paxton was never able to fulfill all of his own dreams, this scholarship is a way to help other children fulfill theirs.
- Paxton’s Treat Cart navigates the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and contains a variety of treats, reading materials, stuffed animals, games, toiletries, and more. It gives children fighting cancer a way to experience some of the joys of childhood. Supporting the treat cart supports the effort of Paxton’s Army of Love to give these children a reason to smile.
- The Warrior program provides ongoing love and support to families fighting childhood cancer. Through an application process, Warriors are identified and cared for in whatever way the family and PAX feel they need most. The aim is to lighten the load within families of children battling cancer and to alleviate some of the stress caused by such an unimaginable diagnosis. The Paxton Andrews Foundation’s support allows the families to focus more on what is most important: their child. You can read the stories of PAX’s amazing Warriors here.
- Each year their largest fundraising event “The Gold Gala” is held. Check in on the website often to donate, volunteer, or attend (if you live in the Milwaukee area).
- You can also donate year-round online from anywhere in the world by joining their army.
Earlier this week I asked Danna if she would mind if I wrote this tribute to her sweet boy and his organization. In one of my messages to her I mentioned how, especially when it comes to teaching and modeling for my children, I question what the right thing to do is all the time. Her reply was,
“Parenting certainly has a way of making you question everything, doesn’t it? The only thing more challenging is having to parent from a parallel universe and lifetime away.”
Truly, no other charity but PaxLove could have found its place as the number one charity on my list. Its influence feels transcendent. Paxton most assuredly has a hand in it. From somewhere in the universe, he continues to share hope and love with others. And his Momma, her friends and family, and Pax himself, deserve a lifetime of fight from all of us.
Wear gold proudly, be a warrior for little helpers everywhere, hug yours closer than ever tonight, and spread PaxLove around the globe.